Friday, July 11, 2008

Kingsport Newspaper Still Refuses Coverage of Candidate Rob Russell

1st District Congressional candidate Rob Russell continues to get zero respect and zero coverage from Hank Hayes and The Kingsport Times-News. It's even more apparent they don't want voters to know much about the upcoming Democrat primary, and that they are willing to prevent news coverage of the candidates involved, unless it is coverage of the incumbent and his GOP challengers.

Hayes' refusals to provide coverage (previously mentioned) continues as Russell posted the following email exchange today on his MySpace page:

"After I had a nice interview with Tom Humphreys, the Nashville-based political reporter for the Knoxville News-Sentinel, I had to deal with the illustrious Hank Hayes and his "questions" -- the transcript of this morning's email exchange is below.


Please forward these questions to Mr. Russell.

What qualifies you to be a United States congressman?

How much money have you raised for your campaign?

How many volunteers does your campaign have?

Do you have county chairs in all 12 district counties?


Dear Mr. Hayes,

I would be happy to complete a legitimate questionnaire concerning my positions on relevant issues, such as the ones that I have completed for VoteSmart, Bristol Herald-Courier, and Knoxville News-Sentinel, and another recently submitted by the Greeneville Sun. The questions below seem to imply that I have to prove the financial worth of my candidacy to the Times-News before you will cover it -- no other media outlet in the district, or beyond, has required such proof.


Rob Russell


Mr. Russell:

Can you tell me how many yard signs you have distributed throughout the district?



Mr. Hayes,

Today I was interviewed by Tom Humphreys of the Knoxville News-Sentinel. This past Tuesday, I had an interview with the Editorial Board of the Bristol Herald-Courier. The amount of signage that I have distributed was not discussed, but campaign financing was, and I was more than happy to speak with them about that topic and answer their questions, since they were clearly interested in finding out my positions on the real issues that are important to voters in this region: the economy, energy, healthcare, and education.

If any other reporter at the Times-News is interested in actually informing area readers about the substance of my campaign, I will be very happy to speak to him or her.


Rob Russell


Mr. Russell:

How many doors have you knocked on in the district?



Lulu is engaged in a scream-fest, and I really can find better uses of my time than continuing to respond to Hayes' non-questions, so we'll just let it go at that.

= Rob

Why the animosity? Is it that Hayes has been called out for his shortcomings? Or do his editors send out the marching orders for this behavior?

What I find most surprising is that determining the merits of candidates is the responsibility of informed voters - not the media. If members of the media work to prevent information from simply being provided, they are working to prevent informed decisions in general. Why? Are they fearful of the decisions the voters might make if they have as much information as possible?

Kudos to the media groups who have been providing info, especially since it is only a few weeks away from the primaries.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Mega-Micro-Blog-Feed-Mobile-Alert-Pod Nation

As I writer, I spend hours (well, sometimes just minutes) at a keyboard and that just runs counter to today's modern-now-a-go-go Internet.

A short snarky sentence with a link is hot. Prose is not.

I tried to get the hang of using Twitter, where you're limited to a few words per posting, and used it mostly to hype this page. They have this little prompt on Twitter "What are you doing right now?" and the answer to that appears to be "Talking about myself."

I only subscribe to a handful of daily feeds and alerts and they are all about movies. I've known folks who have dozens and dozens of Internet bits constantly arriving via their media devices. It all makes me rather ancient as I search and then research and then read and then research and search some more. I might as well be transcribing scrolls from Greek into Latin with a quill under flickering tapers.

I recently started reading popURLs a few times a day. Now there is another mega-micro-aggregator on the Internets called Loud3r - where there are categories of info all gathered under even more cutesy uses of the number 3 instead of an "E", like "New3r", which is about gadgets and tech, "Glaci3r", which is about the environment or "Grind3r" which is all about skateboarding.

I admit I like popURLs because it is so constantly updated and it does usually lead me to read more and explore further.

If I start to copy this style, would that make me a Writ3r? Will the info be shared Quick3r? Will I still be a Think3r?

Will it gather gajillions of Read3rs?

I know I am ancient as all this hooey reminds me of a song from "Jesus Christ Superstar" called "What's The Buzz?" And if you go here to read the lyrics, you can also see a video from the movie and download a "What's The Buzz?" ringtone.


Kingsport Reporter Is The Decider

A peek at Kingsport Times-News reporter Hank Hayes' email on why he does not cover Democrat candidates for Congress is presented via DeMarCaTionVille. Hayes is the Decider of who gets news coverage, and he has decided that it's a Republicans-Only issue.

Hayes writes:

"I tell people, both Republicans and Democrats, that “For me to cover your campaign, there has to be one.” It makes people mad, but that’s the way I feel.
My feeling is just because their name is on the ballot, that doesn’t entitle them to coverage."

But the blogger wisely observes:

"Coverage depends on how Hank feels about your campaign.

As far as I’m concerned if Russell has been running hard enough to be considered a serious candidate by voters in this neck of the woods, this makes him newsworthy. And none of the reasons Hank listed justify his absolute willingness to hold the GOP paintbrush.

Therefore, I say - Bad Hank! Bad! Shame on you! Flackery will get you nowhere. (Unless you’re Bill Hobbs and have enough guts to make those very outrageous Hobbsian-type statement which I wouldn’t recommend because normal people get fired for those things… or you’re playin’ this like Thaddeus and your feelings can be bought.)"

Congress Cowers, Endorses Illegal Spying

Years of intentional deception and illegal actions from the White House were ignored and then embraced as good policy by the U.S. Congress with the passage yesterday of the FISA legislation. Unchecked power from the Executive branch of government continues to grow - at the expense of all else.

The fact remains - immunity was given to illegal acts though few knew what violations had been made.

The deception and the misinformation were clearly presented to members of the Senate by Senator Russ Feingold:

"Mr. President, it could not be clearer that this program broke the law, and this President broke the law. Not only that, but this administration affirmatively misled Congress and the American people about it for years before it finally became public. So if we are going to go back and discuss these issues that I thought had long since been put to rest, let’s cover the full history.

Here is the part of the story that some seem to have forgotten. In January 2005, eleven months before the New York Times broke the story of the illegal wiretapping program, I asked then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales at his confirmation hearing to be Attorney General whether the President had the power to authorize warrantless wiretaps in violation of the criminal law. Neither I nor the vast majority of my colleagues knew it then, but the President had authorized the NSA program three years before, and Mr. Gonzales was directly involved in that issue as White House Counsel. At his confirmation hearing, he first tried to dismiss my question as “hypothetical.” He then testified that “it’s not the policy or the agenda of this President to authorize actions that would be in contravention of our criminal statutes.”

Well, Mr. President, the President’s wiretapping program was in direct contravention of our criminal statutes. Mr. Gonzales knew that, but he wanted the Senate and the American people to think that the President had not acted on the extreme legal theory that the President has the power as Commander in Chief to disobey the criminal laws of this country.

The President, too, misled Congress and the American public. In 2004 and 2005, when Congress was considering the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act, the President went out of his way to assure us that his administration was getting court orders for wiretaps, all the while knowing full well that his warrantless wiretapping program was ongoing.


"Mr. President, I sit on the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, and I am one of the few members of this body who has been fully briefed on the warrantless wiretapping program. And, based on what I know, I can promise that if more information is declassified about the program in the future, as is likely to happen either due to the Inspector General report, the election of a new President, or simply the passage of time, members of this body will regret that we passed this legislation. I am also familiar with the collection activities that have been conducted under the Protect America Act and will continue under this bill. I invite any of my colleagues who wish to know more about those activities to come speak to me in a classified setting. Publicly, all I can say is that I have serious concerns about how those activities may have impacted the civil liberties of Americans. If we grant these new powers to the government and the effects become known to the American people, we will realize what a mistake it was, of that I am sure."

His complete comments from the floor can be read here.


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

G8 Leaders Feast On Irony at Summit

It sounds like a cliche, a very poorly made joke, or cheap movie plot: leaders from around the world gather to hold talks about poverty and hunger and dine on culinary feasts prepared by 60 chefs flown in for the occasion. Irony is much thicker than any gravy.

President Bush, along with leaders from Canada, the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Russia, are meeting in Japan at a conference estimated to cost 285 million pounds. On their first day of talks about food shortages worldwide, they had a 6-course lunch and later an 18-course dinner, all washed down with fine wines and champagne.

A few months back, reports of food riots over basic staples such as rice were in the news. At the conference, the U.K.'s Gordon Brown urged his nation to reduce the demand for "unnecessary food" and to eliminate wasteful eating habits. Then the feasts began:

"As the champagne flowed, the couples enjoyed 18 "higher-quality ingredients", beginning with amuse-bouche of corn stuffed with caviar, smoked salmon and sea urchin pain-surprise-style, hot onion tart and winter lily bulbs.

With translations helpfully provided by the hosts, the starter menu (second course) read like a meal in itself. A folding fan-modelled tray decorated with bamboo grasses carried eight delicacies: kelp-flavoured cold Kyoto beef shabu-shabu, with asparagus dressed with sesame cream; diced fatty flesh of tuna fish, with avocado and jellied soy sauce and the Japanese herb shiso; boiled clam, tomato and shiso in jellied clear soup of clam; water shield and pink conger dressed with a vinegary soy sauce; boiled prawn with jellied tosazu-vinegar; grilled eel rolled around burdock strip; sweet potato; and fried and seasoned goby with soy sauce and sugar.

That was followed by a hairy crab kegani bisque-style soup and salt-grilled bighand thornyhead with a vinegary water pepper sauce. The main course brought the "meat sweats" – poele of milk-fed lamb flavoured with aromatic herbs and mustard, as well as roasted lamb with black truffle and pine seed oil sauce. For the cheese course, the Japanese offered a special selection with lavender honey and caramelised nuts. It was followed by a "G8 fantasy dessert" and coffee served with candied fruits and vegetables.

This was washed down with Le Reve grand cru/La Seule Gloire champagne; a sake wine, Isojiman Junmai Daiginjo Nakadori; Corton-Charlemagne 2005 (France); Ridge California Monte Bello 1997 and Tokaji Esszencia 1999 (Hungary).

The G8 leaders had earlier made do with a "working lunch" of white asparagus and truffle soup; kegani crab; supreme of chicken; and cheese and coffee with petit fours. The lubrication of choice, for those drinking, was Chateau Grillet 2005."

IOther events of note at the summit:

"I wish for a world free from tyranny: the tyranny of hunger, disease and free from tyrannical governments," was George Bush's wish, handwritten on a piece of parchment and tied to a bamboo tree as part of the Japanese Tanabata festival.

The annual ceremony, which this year coincided with Japan's hosting of the G8 summit, is based on the myth of two star-crossed lovers condemned to meet only once a year in the Milky Way on 7 July. Every summer Japanese people write prayers on thin strips of paper and hang them in bamboo branches in the hope their wishes will be granted."

Wishes tied to tree limbs may be as effective a policy as the G8 can create.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Tennessee Kudzu - New Fuel Empire?

It grows fast and it seems to be everywhere. A man in Cleveland, TN says he converts kudzu into fuel and he's ready to go into production across the eastern half of our state:

In the basement of a Cleveland, Tennessee home, Doug Mizell's experiment in energy appears to be taking off. He's found a way to turn kudzu into fuel. Mizell says "if it blows a good blue flame like that, that means there's purity there."

Mizell's spent the last decade perfecting a process to refine kudzu into commercially viable ethanol. Monahan says "cellulosic which is the way we're going, is from plant refuge, we basically can use anything that grew and convert it into ethanol."

And since this ethanol isn't corn or soy based, it won't impact food prices. It takes 10 to 15 pounds of plant material to make a gallon of fuel, at a cost of about $1.30.

Next step, producing this product for market. Monahan says "we're looking for funding to build our first small plant, what you'd call a demonstration plant to help prove to our major investors that it works."

Monahan says a major fuel distributor wants to purchase two-thirds of their first year's production to cut into gas sold throughout the Tennessee Valley. "The distributor we're talking to just wants to get it out there at 10% in all gas."

For more details, you can explore Doug's website, which has all the info on 'kudzunol'.

Kicked Out of The Garden

Here's a controversy that's got plenty of hot button issues - land use, immigration, food, poverty, celebrities, court battles, media bias, government corruption, the search for Justice, political activism and much more.

"The Garden" is a documentary which follows the convoluted events surrounding an urban community garden in South Central Los Angeles - some 14 acres of carefully tended agriculture which emerged in the area after the riots in the early 1990s. Hundreds were using the land, many more than that were fed by the crops and a few years ago the farmers were told they were being evicted, despite all promises to keep the garden intact.

The must-see trailer for the film is here. It has just begun the festival circuits and more press attention is likely to follow. The story is as twisted as movie plot and several celebs got involved, like Willie Nelson and others, including actress Daryl Hannah, who wedged herself into a tree on eviction day. (I'm not sure that helped the cause.)

Was the sale of the land illegal? Did the city conspire to bulldoze the farm? Are the South Central Farmers ordinary folks or crazed activists? (Wikipedia has a page devoted to the debate.)

Kicked out of the farm, locals continue nightly vigils at the site, demanding the right to return to The Garden.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Weekly Best of Tennessee Blogs

I did try this holiday weekend to NOT talk about politics. I failed. Since late last year, thanks to R. Neal at TennViews, what I and many others write and post about politics and culture is gathered up for these weekly roundups. And now even the official News folks are talking about what we're talking about.

The progressive blog roundup made the paper in this Sunday editorial section column by Michael Silence: To the best of my knowledge, it is the strongest, or most active, coalition of bloggers in the state dealing with issues and politics. On the right side of the aisle, I'm not aware of any group blogging as widespread as the one at

We now resume our (ir)regularly scheduled program...

10,000 Monkeys and a Camera: Because what is more patriotic...: ... than being 110% heterosexual?

Aunt B: The Three Best Inventions: I mean, we talk a great game as a country about how families need men. But, if we’re not raising men with basic understandings of stuff, like history, like baseball, like what to do with yourself other than get into trouble, then what benefit are they to a family, really?

BlountViews: In fact, Judge Meares is part of a growing nationwide movement for judicial campaign finance reform, led by former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor who is campaigning for massive changes to the way judges get elected.

Carole Borges: Dear Keith Olbermann, please put your ego back in the box.: I have always liked Keith Olbermann's snarky, edgy political take on the mad mad world of politics, but lately his ego seems to be getting so large it is blotting out the good points he often makes.

The Crone Speaks: Is Rush Limbaugh Worth $50 Million a year?: Seriously, this family is the poster child of everything that is wrong for the "little people" under Republican control of government, and they never saw it. Why? Because they were sucked into the rhetoric of Rush’s rhetoric. See also: Rats Fleeing the Sinking Ship

Cup Of Joe Powell: Tennessee's Official Rockabilly Highway: Tennessee now has an official Rockabilly Highway, thanks to efforts of those in the state legislature. On Friday, officials unveiled the signs which will now mark a 55-mile stretch of Highway 45, from Mississippi to Interstate 40. See also: The Power of Clothes

Don Williams: On Barack Obama and ‘the art of the possible’: So how does Obama repay you? He does the utterly predictable thing and steps down off the pedestal you put him on, and so you feel all betrayed.

TNDP: Lamar Alexander fails to follow through on Environmental Policies: A self-proclaimed champion of the environment, calling it one of his "passions", Lamar’s pitiful voting record is revealed as the article garners comments from the League of Conservation Voters.

Enclave: Local Community Not Waiting for Federal Government to Address Mortgage Crisis: I don't see anyone in Metro Nashville making these kinds of plans. We would rather subsidize our mildly supported hockey team. And, God knows, the first thing a family whose adjustable rate mortgage has just rocketed skyward wants to do is to catch a Predators' match. See also: Liberal blog readers...

Fletch: Barefoot on the Beach

KnoxViews (Doug McDaniel): Iraq Veterans Say Wes Clark is Correct: As a veteran (Desert Storm) myself, I get cranky when Democrats tuck tail on issues related to the military. As Brandon Friedman states eloquently on the Vote Vets blog, there is no reason to cede authority on military matters just because of John McCain's service during Vietnam. See also: Republican essay contest, and Puppy mill raid update

Lean Left: "If Waterboarding Does Not Constitute Torture, Then There Is No Such Thing as Torture": Probably quite a lot of people would smile at the thought of Christopher Hitchens being tortured by agents of the insane and illegal war he cheered into being. It is tempting to view it as ironic justice.

Left of the Dial: Pyro Mania: Over 1,100 people bought tickets for a train ride to downtown for the city’s annual display along the Riverfront but the train only holds 750. That left many waiting at stations in Lebanon and Hermitage as a full train blew past them. And they’re pissed:

LeftWingCracker: OK Tennessee Democrats, it's time to bring your focus back home for a minute!: We are five weeks and one day from the actual election, and two weeks and two days from the start of Early Voting in Big Shelby, and almost THREE in FIVE Democratic voters have not made up their mind?? Whatcha waitin' on, folks, CHRISTMAS???

Liberadio(!): Who Killed Estelle Richardson?: The Davidson County Medical examiner ruled her death a homicide and her murder still remains one of Nashville’s unresolved cases. On Monday, we interviewed prison rights activist, Denver Schimming, about the case.

Newscoma: Winston Rand - He Was A Pretty Good Guy: I have to say that Winston was always kind, smart and clever. He will be missed and our thoughts and prayers go to Roomie. See also: Snickering ‘at the sheer effrontery’

The Pesky Fly: The Full DLC Looks like Obama is in full DLC play-not-to-lose mode. Let's just hope he doesn't go windsurfing.

Progressive Nashville: Patriotism, Part 2: Republicans look at the strength and wellbeing of America, while Democrats concentrate on the strength and wellbeing of Americans. See also: America at its best

Resonance: Monday Gloomy Economic Outlook Blogging: People (including high-ranking officials in the U.S. government) have been suggesting that the worst of the financial mess is over. It's not. To that point, Lawrence Summers: "It is quite possible that we are now at the most dangerous moment since the American financial crisis began last August."

RoaneViews: Pyro Patriot: West Roane Volunteer Fire Department has plenty of stuff you can blow up to show how patriotic you are. Their supplier in China is so patriotic that they blew up a whole fireworks factory.

Russ McBee : Byron Dorgan, oil speculators, and the supply question: The speculators may simply be acting as canaries in the financial coal mine, sending a message that they expect supplies to decline (and prices to skyrocket) in the near future.

Nashville for the 21st Century: Bredesen-O-Meter: Now, perhaps people won't be stupid enough to think McCain is literally George Bush's clone, but any careful observer could see that over the past few months Sen. McCain has abandoned his Maverick credentials in favor of adopting positions close to, or mirroring, those of the Worst President in the History of the United States.

SharonCobb: My Thoughts On Rush Limbaugh's Record Breaking Deal Through 2016.: My first thought when I read that Rush Limbaugh has signed with Clear Channel for a gazillion dollars through 2016, is Clear Channel wants to have Rush on the air through the two terms of President Obama's tenure in the White House to keep the fighting between the left and the right going. See also: What Does It Mean To Be Pro Israel?

Silence Isn't Golden: Hobbsie Steps In It, Again: It must be tough to be so unable to find anything about your own candidate to praise that you're reduced to outright lying about your opponent. See also: Advice For Someone Who Probably Won't Take It

Southern Beale: Obama’s Faith Based Idea Will Work: Count me among those liberals welcoming Barack Obama’s announcement about giving faith-based groups a role in his administration. See also: Never Give Up! Never Surrender!

Tennessee Guerilla Women: Trouble in Obamanation: Liberal Angst: A growing number of longtime Obama supporters are withholding financial and other forms of support for Barack Obama until he comes back to the left. .. Gee, does this mean all these liberals are really Republicans? Must be! See also: Can Wives Be Presidents?

TennViews: Surprise, surprise! AT&T files first statewide cable franchise application: Yes, and thanks to the lobbyists and consultants, who include... See also: Chris Lugo on Independence Day

Vibinc: Tough Financial Medicine: So while you're out there bitching about trials and triangulations, I know I will be, don't forget the harsh reality that gas has surpassed the price of milk, which will most certainly start rising faster. That means everything else gets more expensive, and I need to start lobbying to allow farm animals in the city with all my backyard space. I should probably fix the fence first...

WhitesCreek Journal: Forward Backward Reverse Inward Twist: I am thinking that McCain is pretty flexible for an old person, and in order to get an adequate description of his abilities, we should be watching the Olympic Diving trials now taking place in Knoxville for some ideas. See also: Born on the Fourth of July

Women's Health News: Her Name was Esmin Green: Esmin Green sang gospel music at church. Esmin Green was a mother with six children. Esmin Green was a black woman who died on the floor of one of New York City’s public hospitals while waiting for psychiatric care and being ignored.